BARNESVILLE - Barnesville's Jamie Carpenter stresses there are three tangibles necessary for his Shamrocks to succeed this winter. Defense, defense and defense.
"We may not have the personnel to be a high-scoring team, although we hope to play an up-and-down tempo," Carpenter said. "We are sorely lacking for experience in terms of returning players with varsity minutes. So, hopefully, we can get a few things accomplished at the defensive end of the floor."
A season ago, Barnesville endured a forgettable 0-14 start before eventually righting the ship.
"We came on to win six of our next eight games and finally gained some confidence," Carpenter said.
Graduation claimed a trio of players, including all-district and all-OVAC performer Jess Hunkler, who were forced to shoulder a majority of the offensive load.
Hunkler, a three-year starter, finished strong, pouring in more than 20 points per outing en route to being named to the District 12 All-Star team. She registered 871 career points.
"No question, we'll miss Jess and the consistent scoring ability she displayed,'' Carpenter said. ''This season, there are no Jess Hunklers or Heidi Hines we can rely on. Thus, we're going to have to get things done by committee most nights."
Four seniors comprise the 2012-13 roster. However, the Rocks have no juniors. As a result, a number of underclass prospects will be forced to come of age.
"There is potential among some of our young players and our seniors understand that," Carpenter said. "The idea is putting the best lineup possible that gives us a chance to be successful. It's probably going to take some time, but I'd like to think we'll be an improved team as the season progresses."
The senior class has Marissa Burga vying for her third varsity letter. At 5-foot-7, Burga netted four points per outing last season.
"Her shooting has improved. We need Marissa to step up and help show the way this year," Carpenter said.
Barnesville's inside game features 6-1 senior Raquel Bahmer looking to become a force at both ends of the floor.
"With her size, Raquel will be a definite shot-blocker. And she's not a bad shooter," Carpenter said. "She's worked on her mobility and should be much improved."
Guard Sydney Bruce logged limited minutes as a junior and will likely look to increase those numbers this winter.
"Sydney realizes she's a role player who's capable of giving us an occasional spark,' Carpenter said.
The Shamrocks' fourth senior is two-year letterwinner Lane Hanlon, a 5-5 guard who was a part-time starter a season ago.
"Lane's finest asset is probably her aggressiveness," Carpenter pointed out. "She's a non-stop 100 percent player."
The sophomore class includes a quartet slated to experience varsity action.
Miranda Plumly is a 5-7 point guard whom Carpenter is confident will step in and contribute.
"Miranda basically served as Jess' (Hunkler) backup a year ago. She's a good ball-handler and has above-average quickness...just a good feel for the game," Carpenter said.
Paige Huntsman, at 5-8, should also be a factor.
"She's sound defensively and has a good understanding for the game," Carpenter said. "Paige is one of a number of players who enjoyed success on our volleyball team this fall."
Huntsman was sidelined by illness her freshman campaign.
Hannah Hannahs is a 5-9 prospect who has a good nose for the ball and can be an effective rebounder, according to her coach.
Layna Broomhall, a 5-5 guard, adds depth to the backcourt.
"She's a strong defender,'' Carpenter said. ''More than anything, Layna, like a majority of our young players, just needs varsity experience."
Carpenter speaks highly of a pair of incoming freshman candidates, both of whom are slated to log varsity minutes.
Shaela Markovich is a well-rounded 5-9 cager with a bright future, according to Carpenter.
"She's been involved in the AAU program and has a very good chance to be a contributor," he said.
The same holds true for 5-7 Sydney Ralston, a good ball-handler who sees the floor.
"Sydney is making the difficult transition to varsity at a young age. We feel she'll make important strides as the season moves along," Carpenter said.
Rounding out Barnesville's sophomore contingent are Alexis Moore, Michaela Stephens, Emily Sleeth, Shaela Paboucek, Alex Austin and Cannarrissa Cline.
"Offensively, this is a team which will likely have to be creative on the fly," Carpenter said. "First and foremost, our goal is playing good sound fundamental defense. We'll have to until we can develop consistency on the offensive end.
"We'll undergo some growing pains without a doubt and probably take a few lumps along the way. It's important the kids' attitudes remain positive."
Carpenter and his team participated in preseason tests against Beallsville, Monroe Central, River and Buckeye Local.
Returning as chief assistant and jayvee coach is Justin Little. Jeff Hunkler and Mike Markovich round out the coaching staff.